Friday, December 10, 2010

Paper is Edible!

This is what you get when you hand a piece of paper to a baby.

On a brighter note, it reinforces the fact that papers are indeed edible! :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Jumbo Bun (叶子楣大包)

It totally caught my attention when I first saw it at a coffeeshop below Block 44, Bendemeer road and it has been on my mind ever since.
Besides the Golden Pillow (金枕头) - curry in bun concept, I have never before seen such a big bun...and I do mean BIG! Which is probably why the bun is named after the once famed pornography actress Amy Yip (叶子楣) for her disturbingly (for me at least) oversized busts.

After surrendering $3, I finally had my hands on the jumbo bun and I had to almost stop myself from racing home to slice it open!

The anticipation climaxed when I sliced it into four quarters but it sort of came crashing down when I bite into my first mouthful. It's full of fatty meat and I even managed to dig out some slices of more fat laddened taiwanese sausages! This is gross beyond description!

I do understand that a moderate amount of fat in bun fillings actually accentuate the smoothness of the meat and bun texture in the mouth. But to be chewing into a large chunk of animal fat is another matter entirely!

So much for the excitement. I guess it's time I start disassociating quality with size - totally!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

RamenPlay at 313@Somerset

Just when I was thrilled to find a new ramen restaurant in the local food scene, a quick search through Google revealed that RamenPlay is yet another F&B venture by the BreadTalk Group of Companies which already (by the way) owns Din Tai Fung, Food Republic, The Icing Room, Toast Box, Carl's Junior in China and not forgetting the popular BreadTalk bakeries which are already manifesting itself throughout Singapore.

So it kind of killed my joy upon realising that a mastermind company was behind all these popular brands!

The supposedly Japanese themed restaurant had a tinge of Chinese flavor in their dishes. The fried chicken cutlet tastes fine but somehow lacked the crispy breadcrumb encrusted exterior of typical Japanese fried food. The saucer of chilli marinated chives seems more suited to be served in a Chinese restaurant such as Din Tai Fung.
And the soy sauce marinated chicken wings are anything but Japanese right? It is similar to a local dish easily available at the economic rice (杂菜贩) stalls found in coffeshops and hawker centres.
The food is acceptable but given a choice, I would rather patronise Ajisen Ramen instead - for the sake of authenticity at almost the same price.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy Halloweeeen.....

With a hand-me-down ladybird costume from cousin Alicia, Philip was ready for his first Trick or Treat! :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The First Quarter of His Life

On 21st October 2010, Philip officially turns 3 months old!

To mark the first quarter of his life, we celebrated the day with this mango cake from Chocz. While the adult gets to taste the cake, the best Philip could do to participate was to drool and stare as the cake gradually disappeared into our mouths. :)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Lunch Buffet @ Swissotel Merchant Court

It has been a really long time since I last allowed myself to indulge in a proper buffet meal in a restaurant. And I don't mean the dessert buffet which I had at Goodwood Park Hotel a few months back in June. By MY definition, a proper buffet meal consists of a vast variety of starters, mains and desserts to keep the customers munching from the moment they set foot in the restaurant till the moment they waddle out with their bloated tummies. :)

Naturally, the choice to dine at the Ellenborough Market Café at Goodwood Park Hotel was entirely due to their durian pengat!

Most of the buffet spread consisted of local and peranakan dishes with a small selection of international cuisines in the likes of raw oysters. There was not a large variety to choose from and be prepared to be jostled about by the hungry crowd.

roti prata and pandan leave wrapped chicken

stir-fried prawns, rojak and orh-lua

indian rojak

Most of the dishes tasted decent except for the chilli crab. Presumably in their effort to cost down, smaller crabs were used and may I add that they are not of the freshest lot. The horror began when I realised that the crab claws were not pre-cracked nor were crab crackers provided. As such, I thought that the shell must be soft enough to be cracked with the teeth. Unfortunately, I immediately felt that a visit to the dentist was imminent after only the first attempt. Even after having requested for a cracker and quite an effort to dig out the fresh that seemed to be sticking stubornly to the inside of the shell, was I disappointed to find the crab meat tasting so dry that I almost couldn't tell the difference from those vacuum packed ones sold at the supermarket! So crab-lovers, beware and try it at your own 'risk'!

The buffet lunch cost slightly less than SGD$40 over the weekends and this excludes the ordering of beverages.

Crepe For Breakfast

On an episode of the Martha Stewart show featuring breakfast recipes, I saw this really great way to whip up a filling breakfast which is really simple to make and yet looks and tastes as good as those sold in McDonald's - it's essentially ham slices, scrambled eggs and cheese wrapped in crepe!

The recipe for the crepe skin could be found in an earlier blog entry - Paper-Thin Crepes.

The next steps are simple:
(1) Lay a few pieces of ham slices on the crepe
(2) Sprinkle some cheese bits on the ham slices
(3) Top with a layer of scrambled egg
(4) Sprinkle more cheese bits on the scrambled eggs
(5) Assemble the crepe and fillings like one would do when rolling spring rolls.

(6) Toast the crepe rolls in a pre-heated oven at 180°C for 5 minutes.

And Wa-Lah! A piping hot, filling All-American breakfast for a nice Sunday morning! :)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Marché @ Vivocity

I have always enjoyed dining at the various Marché outlets in Singapore. First was the outlet at the basement of The Heeren, followed by the next outlet at Suntec City. With the closure of these two outlets, I moved on to pounce on the rooftop outlet at Vivocity.

As with the former two outlets, the restaurant is almost always crowded during the weekends. As such, I was rather surprised to find myself walking straight through the entrance on a fine saturday afternoon without having to queue.

Up till being shown to our window seats, I was still rather pleased with how things proceeded so far. We went on our usual rounds to order food from the various stations with their cashless, card system. After a couple of rounds, we finally settled on our table with a plate of rosti and sausage (my all-time favourite!), a mushroom and ham pizza, grilled chicken wings and a medium bowl of stir-fried mushrooms.

We began by biting into what we thought were fat, juicy chicken wings but were instead horrified when the first bite revealed pinkish meat near to the bones! We immediately spitted out whatever contents were in our mouths and I stormed straight to the Grill station. Contrary to what I was feeling, the atmosphere at the Grill station was that of peace and tranquility. The cooks, with smiles plastered on their faces, moved at a snail's pace flipping meat over the grill, chatting happily with their fellow colleagues or were simply busy with I-don't-know-what behind the station...doing anything and everything except serving the growing queue of customers standing in plain view right infront of them!

I had to practically wave the half-cooked piece of chicken wing almost in their faces before it finally caught the attention of one of them. He promptly apologized, mumbled something which I couldn't comprehend, took the piece of meat from my hand, threw it down the rubbish bin, took another piece of pre-grilled chicken wing from a dish, grilled it for a couple of minutes before handling it back to me. And that's pretty much it. I really wondered if I should have instead took a photograph, packaged the half-cooked chicken wing in a zip-lock bag and submit it as proof for my complain to the AVA?

At the relatively higher prices being charged at this Swiss restaurant coupled with the less-than-pleasant food and customer service experience, unless someone is giving me a treat, this might jolly well be my last visit to Marché.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Japanese Peach Cake

These peach-themed snacks were a gift from a friend who bought it specially from Japan.

Aside from it's peachy colours, neither the appearance or the taste resembles that of the fruit. And being unable to read Japanese characters, it doesn't help that the Chinese character for peach (桃) was printed several times on the snack box.

Nevertheless, it tasted ok. And it definitely helps to have it refrigerated. :)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mid-Autumn Festival 2010

It is again that time of the year where adults load up on the ever sweet-tasting, cholesterol laden mooncakes while children were busy parading and showing off their lanterns.

While locals and tourists alike were crowding Clarke Quay with it's display of giant lanterns and numerous makeshift stalls selling mouth-watering delights, I found myself returning to the Mid-Autumn Festival market located along Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho, more popularly known as Si Ma Lu Kwan Yin Temple (四马路观音庙).

Stalls lined both sides of the street selling the inevitable mooncakes, a great variety of lanterns, pomelos and even potted plants. Red lanterns dangling from the trees also added much festivity mood to the street.
The majority of lanterns on sale were battery operated ones which comes in all sorts of popular cartoon figurines. However, I was more drawn to the paper and plastic lanterns, where the latter was the more 'up-market' lantern during my childhood days. More importantly, these lanterns had to be lighted up by means of candles which gives the children the perfect excuse to play with fire for that one day in a year.
Instead of mooncakes, I would rather prefer the simpler and cheaper 'biscuits' which are a sort of festive snacks for the children. Made up of only flour, sugar, egg, oil and water, the dough is moulded into animal shapes like that of a fish or the piglet before it is baked. Despite having no expensive fillings to brag about, these 'biscuits' never fails to bring back fond memories of my carefree childhood days

Monday, September 27, 2010

Root Beer Float @ New York New York!

I could still vividly recall my junior college days when a group of classmates would drop in at A&W on Tuesdays specifically for it's discounted Coney Dogs and signature root beer floats served in ice-frosted mugs.

Ever since the fast food chain moved out of Singapore many years back, one could still chance upon the occasional root beer floats sold at other restaurants. A recent encounter would be at the New York New York! restaurant @ Heartland Mall Kovan.

The drink came in a tall mug topped with the much anticipated scoop of vanilla ice-cream. It was very much a recreation of the signature drink from A&W but nothing beats the real deal - be it the presentation, price (charged at slightly less than $8!) or even the soft drink to ice-cream ratio. By the time I gobbled up the last chunk of ice-cream floating in the drink, the mug was still about three quarters full and this was when I wished the scoop of ice-cream was bigger. So you see, more doesn't mean it's better. It all boils down to proportions!
For the younger generations who never had the good fortune of dining at A&W restaurants in Singapore, you might want to pop over at our friendly neighbour - Malaysia - for the real deal!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Philip's First Month Party

Just when we, as parents, were lost between the days and nights, a month just passed us by and on 21 August 2010, everybody came together to celebrate the milestone of Philip's first month into babyhood!
We ordered from Four Seasons Catering Pte Ltd which offers a Baby Full Month Buffet Feast package with the traditional red eggs, ang ku kuehs and even glutinous rice thrown into the buffet spread!
The package is competitively priced, buffet spread professionally setup, decent spread of tummy filling staple food and a good portion of finger licking desserts.

Stir Fried Dory Fillet in Sze Chuan Style

Deluxe Lo Han Chye
Deep Fried Nested Yam Roll
Signature Four Seasons Chicken
Stir Fried Prawns with Chilli Crab Sauce (the dish to get the most raving reviews!)
Wok Fried Noodle in Hong Kong Style
Fruit Mochi
Mini Cream Puff
Mini Swiss Roll

Yet another satisfied customer!

Philip ist da!

On 21 July 2010, weighing at 3.510kg with a length of 52cm, Philip finally made his appearance! :)

Baum Kuchen

Baum Kuchen literally translates to mean Tree Cake in English. Despite having spent quite some time in Austria, this is the first time I came across this cake.

The cake resembles the growth ring of a crosscut tree and the baking process is even more interesting. It is somewhat similar to kueh lapis where a thin layer of batter poured into a baking tin is allowed to be baked before adding on the next layer. However, in the case of the Baum Kuchen, the batter is brushed onto a spit which is rotated around a heat source. Once the outer layer is baked, the next layer of batter would be applied until the ring grows to the size of one's desire.

I happened to chance upon the shop, Wheat Baumkuchen, at Toa Payoh Central (Blk 190 Lorong 6, Toa Payoh #01-530) and thought that it stands out from the rest of the typical neighbourhood shops surrounding it.

I would have thought that this is yet another business idea brought in from Europe but was surprised to find Japanese wordings on the paper bag. My curiosity got the better of me and a quick search online revealed that the cake was first introduced to Japan by a German in 1919, shortly after World War 1, which subsequently grew to become a popular pastry in Japan today.

I purchased 3 flavors - Original, Chocolate and Original with Nutella & Nuts coating. Both the Original and Chocolate flavored cakes tasted rather plain and dry. Truth be told, I would rather prefer a spongecake. The last piece tasted much better probably due to its coating which gives it a rich chocolately and crunchy texture.

I'll surely be back for more but only the ones with coatings or toppings on it.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Dinner at Chef Daniel's Kitchen @ Iluma

After trying out their lunch menu, I have been wanting to find an opportunity to check out their dinner menu, at $28nett for a full course dinner, it was worth the curiosity!

Yesterday presented the perfect opportunity to visit Chef Daniel's Kitchen again, I made a reservation for 4 pax and headed down to the restaurant on the 7th floor roof top of Iluma right after work.

The restaurant is also now featuring the 3 dishes that Chef Daniel concocted in China during the shooting of the current TV reality show on Channel U - 名厨出走记. I made up my mind to try all 3 of the dishes in addition to the dinner set menu, furthermore, the restaurant is offering a 15% discount in August as part of the Singapore 45th National Day Celebration!

The Potato Dumpling with Minced Meat Sauce was an interesting dish, the potato dumplings doesn't have any filling and in itself is rather chewy and tasteless. The accompaniment of the mince meat fried with garlic, however, gave the dish it's much needed fragrance and taste. This dish would have been better if the minced meat sauce was more abundant!

The white asparagus salad was light and refreshing and because of the choice of using the white asparagus instead of the regular green asparagus, the salad wasn't too fibrous and the asparagus went well with the radishes, rockets (arugula) and the other veggies.

The mushroom rice, probably the most popular amongst the 3 dishes had a more traditional taste to it. It almost tasted like the Chinese lotus leaves dumpling made of glutinous rice and mushroom meat fillings. The strong flavors of the mushrooms again lent much savouries to the plain rice. I'm a mushroom-lover, especially when the mushroom is done Chinese-style which significantly enhances the natural fragrance of the fungi.

As part of the set dinner, we were presented with the soup of the day, which was Potato-Leek Soup and the standard slice of herb bread. The soup was decent, nothing too spectacular. It was served in an over-sized soup bowl which was fine except that the tables were simply not big enough for it, especially since we were still having the first 3 dishes and our drinks on the table. I would definitely suggest that they change their soup bowls unless the tables get bigger! The other thing that I found surprisingly lacking was that the waitress who was serving out table doesn't understand English at all! I tried ordering the from the menu which was in English and she asked me in Mandarin if I can order in Mandarin instead! I would think that the restaurant would minimally train the serving staffs to understand the restaurant's own menu in English!

The lamb shank was a little dry to start with but it became increasingly moist when it reaches the portion that was soaked in the gravy. It's more a fusion style cooking and different from the traditional western styled lamb shank. This dish resembled more of a Chinese lamb stew.

The Black Cod Casino was again a fusion between a western style ingredient with a twist of Japanese influence. The cod fish was fried and baked with a layer of fish roe which gave it that very Japanese presentation. The taste however was a little too sweet to my liking.

The Ribeye Steak was probably the only dish we had that was true to it's origin. Served with a portion of Caesar's Salad, I had my steak cooked to medium well and it suited me well. The steak was still moist and juicy within and very minimal fat.

The standard dessert of the day that came with the set dinner was brownie served with vanilla ice-cream. Another minus point to note is that the house pour that were featured in the menu wasn't available so we were told to order a whole bottle from the wine menu instead.

Being a new restaurant and all, I think that they are doing decently well but unfortunately flawed by the small details such as the non-English speaking staff, the table layout for dinner as well as the missing house-pour. Hopefully they will be able to iron out these issues as they continue to gain more visibility and popularity.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Fancy Delights Egg Tarts @ Tanjong Pagar Plaza

I work in Tanjong Pagar and after almost 5 years there, I have my little red book for all the eateries in the vincinity. When mentioned Tanjong Pagar Plaza, most people would probably know that there's a very popular muffin shop there. However, just along the same stretch at the far corner, there's a less well-known shop selling soya bean milk and egg tarts, which is fast becoming a popular tea-time buy for my office. Honestly, I think that the famous muffins are a little too over-rated but I guess everyone's entitled to their own taste-buds.

Fancy Delights' Fancy Egg Tarts @ Tanjong Pagar Plaza

I didn't count but I think they have about 12 different types of egg tarts, both sweet and savoury. To name a few: Original, green tea, portuguese, blueberry, strawberry, kiwi, chocolate, double chocolate, cheese, pepper chicken and mushroom chicken. I'm not too adventurous when it comes to egg tarts so I pretty much still prefers the original egg tarts and for the savoury option, I would choose the cream cheese egg tart. Both the mushroom and black pepper chicken egg tarts do make for a more filling snack though.

So next time when you are in the area, go check out this shop which is located along the same stretch as the muffin shop (you can't miss the queue) and interestingly enough, right next to a Jap adult store!

Jams Cafe @ {Prologue}

Another hidden treasure for me, the Jams Cafe at {Prologue} in ION Orchard. As some of you might know (or might not know), {Prologue} belongs to the familiar Popular chain of bookstores that we grew up with, unfortunately with the establishment of the mega bookstores such as Borders and Kinokunia, Popular has been losing much of it's market share which is evident in the closing and shrinkage of some of their outlets.

When I found {Prologue} at ION Orchard, i was a little skeptical about how long they would last there, I would assume that the lease there would be significantly higher and especially since they, as a "Popular's tradition", dedicated a section to our all too familiar assessment books! Nevertheless, when I wandered in and saw that they too have a small cafe within the store, I decided to give it a shot.

Surprisingly, I find the cafe to be nicely situated at one end of the book store with a nice view of the street activities below at Orchard Road. The ambient was nice, quieter than most of the other cafes in the area, probably due to the lesser crowd at that level on ION Orchard.

Blueberry scones, cheesecake and latte

The blueberry scone was a tad too dry and not particularly tasty, neither was the blueberry cheesecake too fascinating. I'm not much of a coffee person and the latter wasn't impressive enough to make a convert out of me. The bit which I found quite annoying was that they wouldn't give any jam and cream with the scone ($2.50 single) unless the customer buys the scone set ($8.50) which comes with 2 scones, so effectively, they are charging an extra $3.50 just for jam and cream! I simply refused to pay for jam and cream and just had the single scone.

On my second visit over the weekend, I decided to try their red organic rooibos tea and apple walnut cake. The rooibos tea was nice and nutty, plus it's rich in antioxidants! The apple walnut cake has a texture texture similar to that of a moist carrot cake, so it was a rather pleasant surprise. Overall, I thought that the tea went well with the cake. Of course the main reason I went back there was more for the ambient, a quick getaway and feet-rest after walking lots in Orchard road.

Sushi Tei @ Paragon

I've discovered not too long ago that the Sushi Tei at Paragon has a pretty good view of Orchard Road if I can manage to get a table by the full glass window, so far I've managed to do that twice. The key is to go there before the crowd hits the restaurant before the dinner peak hours, especially since they do not take reservation!
The food at Sushi Tei has always been decently good and I had a visitor once commented that he found the price to be cheap for the quality and selection of dishes there!

Sushi Tei is having a seasonal Sakura menu currently and I found this crab leg hotpot which comes with collagen cubes. I've seen collagen hotpots on TV but never tried it before, so without hesitation, I ordered the Zuwaikani Hotpot which comes with crab legs, scallops, fish, noodles and pumpkins to my delight!

Zuwaikani Hotpot

Assorted Sushi Platter

The other dishes such as the assorted Sushi Platter and marinated jellyfish are from their original menu.
The Spread

One of the item that I always like to indulge in is the grilled squid! You can either order it grilled with Teriyaki sauce or simply with salt, I chose the latter to taste the squid better.

Ika Sugatayaki

For a moderately priced dinner with a view, I would definitely recommend Sushi Tei at Paragon!